The Labour leader has accused Rishi Sunak of laughing at an Iceland worker who is finding it difficult to pay his mortgage during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs).
Sir Keir Starmer said that “working people are paying the price” over the “damage” done to the British economy.
The Labour leader mentioned an Iceland employee called Phil, Sir Keir told MPs in the House of Commons, “Laughing at an employee at Iceland who is struggling with his mortgage – shame.
“He told me that his mortgage is going up by a staggering £1,000 a month, Prime Minister. He doesn’t want other averages, other people, other stories, that’s what’s happening to him.”
The Labour leader then told MPs that the Mid Norfolk Tory MP George Freeman was forced to quit his job because he is struggling to pay his mortgage.
The former minister for Mid-Norfolk, resigned from his position, citing an inability to cope with skyrocketing mortgage payments.
On his Substack, Freeman disclosed a staggering increase in his mortgage, jumping from £800 per month to a daunting £2000, a sum he found unmanageable on his ministerial salary of over £118,000 annually.
This revelation opens a significant conversation: If a former minister with a six-figure income struggles with mortgage payments, what does this mean for the average homeowner?
The Labour leader said, “If the Member for Mid Norfolk on £120,000 can’t afford this Tory Government, how on earth can people like Phil?”
Sunak replied, “Thanks to the management of the economy, Phil and millions of people like him are now ensuring that inflation is less than half of the rate it was when we were talking a year ago, putting more money in their pocket.
“And thanks to this Government, Phil and millions of workers – not just at Iceland but across the country – are benefitting this month in their pay packets from a tax cut worth hundreds of pounds for someone on an average salary.”
The Prime Minister asked if the Labour leader had explained to the Iceland worker the “cost of his policies,” which includes a £28 billion green spending “spree.”
He added, “Did he explain to Phil that he’d be better off sticking with our plan rather than going back to square one with him?”
Sir Keir replied, “I’d invite the Prime Minister to get in touch with Phil and explain to him how paying £1,000 more on his mortgage is making him better off because that’s not how he feels.
“He’s just so out of touch it’s unbelievable. Finding hundreds of pounds extra a month – that may not seem like a big deal to the Prime Minister, but let me tell him most people don’t have that sort of money knocking around.”
Sir Keir slammed the government’s move to allow council tax to increase by up to 5%, he added, “He says everything is fine, people are better off, but when people see their mortgages going up, their council tax going up, food prices still going up, who does he expect them to believe, his boasts or their bank accounts?”
The Prime Minister accused the Labour leader of resorting to “politics of envy” and said is “surprised” that the shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves will not place a cap on bankers bonuses.
Sunak said, “I don’t know if he mentioned that to Phil when he was having a chat with him.
“I can tell him that trust and economic credibility come from sticking to a plan, but it’s becoming clear that you cannot trust a word that he says.
“And again when the shadow chancellor says or claims that they won’t borrow much, they won’t raise Phil’s taxes, we now know that those promises simply again aren’t worth the Wikipedia page they were copied from.”
Sir Keir said, “I actually didn’t expect him to be laughing at Phil.”
Sir Keir continued, “The Prime Minister just doesn’t get how hard it is for millions of people across the country like Phil. That is the primary problem.”